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Looking around for a new host I discovered that there are a number who offer unlimited domains in the one account.
So my nice new personal hosting account has 1 gig of space and 20 gigs bandwith. I can have as many domains in this as I can cram in, each with it's own control panel, at no extra cost to me.
So what I plan on doing from now on is offering clients "free" hosting, the cost of which is built into the site design and upkeep fees.
I'll probably register the domain name for them as well, paying for the first year myself but putting them down as the owner so that they will get the renewal notice.
How does that sound for a method?
One thing to remember is that with maintenance there's a difference between monthly upkeep (try over 60 emails in one month, from one person) and once-monthly updates and routine maintenance, like if a price needs to be changed or there's a minor text change. Some can send email every day, and others you won't hear from - ever. They just send their payment as soon as they get the bill. Try to figure how much of a monthly time allotment you're willing to include so it remains workable for you.
I've been doing that type of "package" quarterly on a limited number of modestly-sized sites for quite a while, and it's very workable with the right people, especially if a bit of optimization is part of it. When you check rankings you can just go in and make a bit of a change here and there when needed with no hassles and no lengthy correspondence. How much leeway you'll have depends on the individual. But it's generally not even noticeable and an occasional unexpected email to them with links to new rankingas with the subject: check your rankings does tend to keep them happy and very loyal. And if you're not already doing optimization, you'll have an opportunity on the sites you're maintaining if you add that to the agreement as a "courtesy".
List exactly what items or services you'll be including and make that part clear right off so there's no mistaking it down the road. If it's a product site, some people might assume that maintenance includes adding many items any time they'd like to, even though routine maintenance is not the same as site additions and updates. That can end up very time consuming.
It's a good plan with design, convenient for both you and clients. I've had to deal with some difficult people, so I'd safely say that if there's any question at the beginning of how they'll be to work with you can have a Plan B, like for 3 or 6 months with an option to renew, so you, yourself are not locked in for such a long time. Those will probably be exceptions, but it can happen.
Im in the process of switching hosting now and thinking of re-doing the packages and including some "free" features like you mentioned. I've got the figures added up, and it's very workable if there's enough paid up front.
Sounds like you found a good deal, good luck with it.
i offer 6 or 12 months free hosting with all contracts - after that they pay normal hosting rates. that way i get money out of them regardless.
the free hosting has been a deciding factor in several small contracts - people like it. it's all something to do with the word FREE - doesnt matter what you give them thats FREE, the more free stuff, the better.
I agree with this. Take a very close look at this.
When I had decided to open an office for my satellite dish business, I had also decided I wanted to get into doing web design and some graphics work etc... I was lucky enough to get an office right next door to my isp that serviced my home. I had a real good relationship with them, to the point that they let me run a cat5 right into their router.... Now that was NICE !!!!!
I then started hosting some sites that I had designed, which they allowed me to use as much bandwidth as I needed at no charge ;). I was even alloted a number of static ips from them for this purpose.
The way I handled it was to give them (my web clients)the quotes for the site work, maintenance (updates as needed 'charged per incident', monthly search engine submissions, monthly site statistics etc...) each of these priced seperatly. Then the charge for hosting was based on site size. But basically I charged $19.95 per month for them, seperate from all the other above stated additional charges.
I found that they would pay the fees for the services they wanted without any question.
I made sure to clearly define in my contract with them the terms of each service, so there was no misunderstanding what those charges were or would be.
PS. Yikers, this was long winded. So much so, 2 other posts were made by the time that I hit 'submit'. ;)
I was running linux boxes, 1 for a firewall, 1 for a email server, and 1 for the web server.